Recently I received a telephone call from Margaret Braun from Fredonia asking if she could meet me regarding a few nature paintings she had completed, and if I was interested. How can you refuse an invitation like that? When the meeting took place a few weeks ago at a local restaurant, I was surprisingly shocked at her art work. Not only did she hand paint bird photographs with amazing accuracy, but also her drawings were all completed on Christmas decorations (see attached). Now, I know one of the greatest nature artists I ever had the opportunity to meet and occasionally spend some time with was the legendary Roger Tory Peterson, who I know would have been amazed at the product Margaret produced.
My plan today is to briefly describe five of 10 of the paintings, in accordance with a brief life history of each, and observation times here in our county. We will start with the Ruffed Grouse, a game bird. This bird, usually considered a common resident, is observed in our area in a woodland habitat, except near heavily populated areas. According to the records maintained by the former county bird hotline, it was usually observed all year in proper habitat locations. Known to demonstrate 10-year cycles in our state, it was occasionally preyed upon by the Great Horned Owl. At one time in history it was feared that this bird faced statewide extinction.
The next bird to discuss is the Eastern Towhee, a member of the sparrow family; this bird is considered an all year bird here in our county. Originally called the Rufous-sided Towhee, this bird has seen significant declines in our area over the years; however recent population studies report a regional increase in numbers.
The third bird to discuss is the American Redstart, a member of the warbler family. This little bird arrives around the end of April and departs by the end of September; there is one record of a sighting in our area on the second week of November. This may have been an injured or ill bird. Unfortunately I do not have specific data on that report. During the last statewide nesting study, the Redstart was found in over 80 percent of the state-wide breeding blocks, making it one of the more abundant warbler species in our state.
Bird number four in this half of the report is the little Chipping Sparrow. An abundant singer, this little guy is considered an all year bird in Chautauqua County. There have been some interesting reports of this sparrow with two poorly defined species being reported in our state over the years, creating a few observation problems.
Bird number five, and the last one this week, is the melodic singing Wood Thrush, nicknamed years ago as "flute' for its woodland song. Arriving in our county around the last week of April and departing for wintering grounds about the second week of October, this bird has thrilled many a person who has lived near or spend considerable time near woodland habitats.
Photographs, sightings and article suggestions can be sent to me by U.S. Mail at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank You.